THE DREAM CAST!
- By Sasha Klaver
- Photos Courtesy of FX/Ray Mickshaw
Today court cases and legal proceedings are not only courtroom high drama, but they have become mainstream entertainment and obsession. And while younger viewers of Nancy Grace and Making of a Murderer might find this just a selection among the many choices of programming available, those of us of a certain age remember the original televised trial—that of “The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson.” And FX is making sure we all realize just how monumental it was, and why it grew into such a sensation in its new miniseries, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
The O.J. Simpson trial wasn’t just a moment in time, a memory long faded. It was a turning point in how the American people viewed justice. Whether one believes O.J. was innocent or guilty, it changed forever how people saw the courtroom. And no matter how much people think they know about the incidents surrounding the back story and trial itself, FX sheds an astounding new light on the pop-cultural, legal phenomenon.
Beginning with the cast the miniseries is already a force to be reckoned with. Bearing such names as Cuba Gooding (as O.J. himself), John Travolta (as Attorney Robert Shapiro), Nathan Lane (playing legendary lawyer F. Lee Baily), Sarah Paulson (in the role of the oft-embattled Assistant District Attorney Marcia Clark), Courtney B. Vance (as courtroom superstar Johnnie Cochran), David Schwimmer (playing O.J.’s best friend, attorney and Kardashian family progenitor, Robert Kardashian) and Selma Blair (as the other half of the now famous Kardashian family, Kris Kardashian), the casting for this production is a feat in and of itself. Other notables that round out the star-studded roster include Connie Britton, Jordana Brewster and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
The most striking thing about the story—though perhaps not surprising—is how much the public didn’t know. The behind the scenes lawyer drama, the marital issues facing the characters and the absolutely punishing media attention took a very real toll on everyone, regardless of sides. As is so evident in today’s social-media driven culture, scrutiny and attention can be great, but it can also be brutal and unforgiving. This is the back drop to one of the break out performances of the show.
To most who watched, Marcia Clark was the prosecuting attorney who tried to convict O.J. of the murder. Some may remember her in the press, and some may not. But regardless of what happened back in 1994, what is undeniable in 2016 is Sarah Paulson’s absolutely extraordinary performance. At times blindly ambitious and overly confident, to moments of such humanity that viewers cannot help but feel deeply for her character, Paulson executes this role in a way that elevates her among actors.
Along with Paulson, Vance turns in a portrayal of now-legendary Johnnie Cochran that deserve all the praise that is sure to be showered upon him. The audience goes from amazement at his brilliance and charm, to hating the depths to which he will sink to win the case, in the time it takes for one scene to pass. But no matter what someone may think of Cochran himself after the credits role, there is no room for debate that Vance turns in one hell of a performance.
Filmed on location in Los Angeles, the miniseries also has a way of educating even those who remember the events on TV. From the moment the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman are discovered, the viewer is shown what never came to light in the papers. By breathing life into the discovery of the now-infamous bloody glove, the personality of Kato Kaelin and his relationship to the case, to the notorious white Bronco chase, TV audiences are sure to be left saying, “Oh—I didn’t know that.” It is a lesson in how not to draw conclusions before you have the facts.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” premieres on Tuesday, February 2nd on FX Network.